Bring back the joy of Christmas with this Christmas Wish list! Read below to discover the 4 gift idea. There’s a twist to help you and your loved ones stay focused on what is important this season.
All of the parents in the room had hoped in some way to share with their children the real meaning of Christmas but somehow that message was missed.
We sat around the living room and watched our little ones full of excitement and anticipation waiting to see what “Santa” had brought them.
The moment had come–the opening of gifts. We all had different ways and traditions for opening Christmas presents. Some of us parents had wished our kids opened them one gift at a time, other parents didn’t seem to care but before we knew it our kids had dived in and opened up ALL their gifts.
I sat there taking in all of their little faces filled with absolute joy as they opened their long-awaited presents.
But then something happened.
Those smiles turned into frowns. I was confused. This was a dream come true had this been my childhood.
How did the joy disappear so quickly? A few minutes had just passed when they were flowing with excitement and now they were surrounded with toys. The very toys they wanted and wished for all year long but their faces displayed dissatisfaction.
From Excited to Entitled
How did we go from excited to entitled?
I was a new parent so I wanted to figure this out so I could guide my children in the future.
That morning there were very few “thank you’s” exchanged and the air wreaked with entitlement. In a matter of seconds, I began hearing, “Is that it?” from most of the kids. Some whispered as they knew better to say it out loud but most just blurted it out.
I sat there in shock as the words echoed in my ears, “Is that it?” from children who were surrounded with toys.
As a child, I dreamed of a Christmas morning like this filled with piles of gifts and overflowing stockings but because of our financial strains most years we were lucky to receive something small.
Here were kids who could literally get lost under the pile of wrapping paper from all the gifts that had just been opened and all that was heard was–Is that it?
I was speechless at what had just unfolded and to my dismay, my children were a part of this “entitlement party”.
Something Has to Change Moment
That was “the” moment I decided we had to do things differently so we wouldn’t have a repeat of that.
Months later, the words still echoed in my ears–
“Is that it?”
I wondered–What went wrong? All the adults had great intentions. We wanted our kids to be filled with gratitude and joy as they opened up their gifts. But we also had the desire for our children to see that Christmas is more than presents.
The “Gift Rush”
How could we avoid “the gift-rush” of Christmas?
Have you heard of a “sugar rush”?
I looked it up on wiktionary and it says, “A purported state of hyperactivity caused by excessive consumption of sugar, or other simple carbohydrates.”
That’s what happened to our kids that Christmas morning. It wasn’t sugar that caused hyperactivity, instead, it was all the gifts that created this insensitivity and entitlement. So the word “gift-rush” was born. It’s the only thing I could come up with to describe what happened that Christmas morning.
“Gift rush” – A purported state of hyperactivity caused by excessive “consumption” of gifts and stocking stuffers in a short amount of time that releases a state of “entitlement”.
What we did to bring back the Joy of Christmas
Since that interesting experience when they were little, we decided to be more intentional in our Christmas activities. We want Christmas to be a time where we focus on Christ, family, and service.
So we have enjoyed doing our Christmas ADVENTures advent with our kids that focuses on Christ and why He came. It’s filled with both spiritual insights and fun things like making cookies but also fun activities to connect them to the reason why Jesus came. Being intentional is not about being a Scrooge and taking all the fun out but staying focused and keeping it simple.
Secondly, we changed how many gifts our kids would get, not because I am against gift-giving but because I wanted them to enjoy the gifts they were receiving. My hope is for them to think through what is it that they “need and want” and to know the difference.
I want them to realize that Christmas gifts are exactly that–a “gift”. Not a “right” but a gift. Not something they are entitled to but a simple way that we express our sentiments for one another.
One thing I value now as an adult about my parents is they gave us what they could afford and never more. They were wise not to go into debt to provide us with a mound of gifts on Christmas morning. Many people walk around with credit cards maxed out and stress as they run around town or scour the internet to buy the perfect pile of gifts for their children but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Thirdly, our desire is to foster compassion, service, and kindness so we think about what we can do to give to someone in need.
I don’t know what the Christmas season looks like for you but no matter what you’ve done in the past you can choose to become more intentional and focus on what you value: family, faith, and serving others.
Bring Back the Joy of Christmas with This 4 Gift Challenge
Will you be brave enough to say, “I’m removing the expectations I have followed for years that don’t necessarily align with our values?”
Now you can focus on making memories! Memories that are intentional and filled with value–the gift of Jesus and quality time spent laughing and connecting with family and others.
This simple decision of simplifying Christmas gifts will affect how you view this season, and how your children view it.
It will help you remember to be present not just to give presents.”
It will help you focus on your family, faith, and presence.
It will bring peace to your season as you remove the stress that fills our minds and not to mention your pockets.
The best presents are always the ones right in front of us waiting to be discovered.”
What I have enjoyed the most from this 4 Gift Challenge is how our focus has moved away from presents to presence. Notice I didn’t say don’t give presents because I’m not against presents. I’m just changing our focus to presence:
—>The presence of Christ.
—>The presence of family and friends. The love and memories shared are priceless.
—>The presence of peace. As we slow our hearts and focus on not just receiving but giving.
This 4 Gift Challenge will help your kids discover the presents they already have: family, community, and faith.
How does the 4 Gift Challenge Work:
Do you want to save money?
Are you tired of giving in to the commercialism that permeates this season?
Are you tired of stuff filling your house?
Regardless of your reason, fill your next few days answering this question,
“What do I really want to give my family this Christmas?”
You’ll probably come to realize it’s mostly things you can’t buy. The memories you hold onto from your childhood are probably filled with things like baking with grandma, watching the Charlie Brown Christmas with your siblings, acting out the Christmas story… You probably noticed that what you love about those times is the quality time spent laughing, connecting with each other, or serving others.
This Wish List is a great way for your kids to start thinking through the differences between what they need and what they want. Not to mention it will help them think through how they want to serve someone else this year with the last section.
- Share with your kids that this year you want to focus on the true meaning of Christmas-family faith and giving. Print the Wish List out from below.
- Explain that for each category they can write down a couple of suggestions but you’ll only give them one from each, for a total of 3 gifts. (This is not a hard and fast rule but we try to stay focused on 3 gifts.) If they aren’t into a book series I have bought my kids a devotional.
- The last section is where they will have the opportunity to write how they want to bless someone this year. It does NOT have to be something they buy but it can be an act of service. Like raking the leaves or plowing snow for a neighbor. Or baking something for the mailman to show them how we care for them and appreciate them. We all need to embrace giving a bit more in this season as we love and appreciate others.
One of the things we like to do is a family gift that’s an experience we can enjoy together. Sometimes it’s a trip to the museum, a play, or a board game we all would love. It looks different each year as they enter into different stages of life.
One year it was a trip to Washington D.C. and we invited my in-laws and each of our kids picked something they wanted to do with their grandparents. It was a great Christmas gift for the grandparents, a fun family getaway, and a treat for our children to have that time with grandparents. During our time we planned out questions the kids would ask their grandparents at meals to get to know them a bit more and how they did life when they were younger.
Download your free printable!
To download your free Christmas Wish Printable go HERE. Before we went to the 4 gift tradition I made this printable with only the typical 3 gifts, so here’s that version. It’s without the giving to someone in need part but I highly recommend adding that to your Christmas experience this year.
This may be a challenge if you’re used to mounds of gifts and stockings overflowing with gadgets.
But it’s so worth it! Try it and reap the benefits of peace, simplicity, and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas!